Sunday, March 27, 2016

Zootopia - smart and charming

movie review


Voice cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J. K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, and Shakira
Directors: Byron Howard and Rich Moore
Tagline: Welcome to the urban jungle.

Over the last few years, the Walt Disney Animation Studios has been busy re-establishing itself as the best in the business by releasing a string of impressive films like Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6. The animation powerhouse continues its run of strong releases with its newest feature, Zootopia, a smart, charming film that deals with the topics of inclusion, diversity, and discrimination.

Predators and prey have learned to live in harmony in the world of Zootopia, creating a setting where all the anthropomorphic animals coexist peacefully. Even in this seemingly ideal environment, however, some issues still linger, and prejudice continues to rear its ugly head. But Judy Hopps (voiced genially by Ginnifer Goodwin), a little rabbit with a can-do attitude, is determined not to let anything get in the way of her dream of becoming a big city cop, even though there has never been a bunny police officer before. With a lot of hard work, Judy finally realizes her ambition and joins the Zootopia Police Department, only to be relegated to the job of a meter maid by ZPD’s chief Bogo (Idris Elba), a large buffalo who doubts her potential.

In an effort to prove her merit, Judy wiggles her way into an assignment, and ends up being tasked with finding Mrs. Otterton’s (Octavia Spencer) missing husband in the next 48 hours, or else she loses her job. In her quest to solve the case, she forces a sly, hustler fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), to help her look for the missing mammal. Together, they set out to unravel the mystery while facing prejudices and confronting their own preconceptions about others along the way.

There may not be anything extraordinary about the film’s buddy cop plot, but its fast-paced, action-filled execution makes Zootopia a fun, exciting watch. Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore do a terrific job keeping the action rolling while they offer smart social commentary and deliver lessons about acceptance without making the movie seem too preachy. The writers have put together a compelling, amusing script, and even though it doesn’t bombard viewers with snarky one¬-liners, it still offers plenty of laughs and lots of witty touches; a gag about sloths running the DMV is particularly memorable.

The animation of both the cute furry creatures and their surroundings is very well rendered. The main characters are likable; it is easy to get emotionally invested in their tale, and you simply can’t help but root for the duo at the centre of the plot. The filmmakers have also done a great job with the project’s casting. Both Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman are very suitable as the voices of the leads, and neither of them sounds distractingly, overly familiar, as is sometimes the case when film and television actors are hired to do voice roles.

On the whole, its mystery and conspiracy elements may not be extremely innovative, but Zootopia is still very likely to entertain both younger viewers and grownups. This energetic romp offers a timely message in a world plagued with racism and intolerance, and is populated with charming characters that are sure to win you over.

Rating: 4 out of 5

- Sameen Amer

Hi Five, The Express Tribune - 27th March, 2016

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